I. YAYIN AT HARVEST TIME IS GRAPE JUICE
The verses in this lesson provide further evidence that the word yayin does indeed often mean grape juice. Key references to remember are Song of Solomon 5:1 with Proverbs 20:1 from Lesson Two, and now, Isaiah 16:9,10 and Lamentations 2:11,12 from Lesson Three.
Micah 6, Isaiah 16, Jeremiah 40,48, and Nehemiah 13
The Bible calls the juice just pressed from grapes at harvest time yayin. Micah 6:15 states this clearly. God says, “you will tread ...the grapes (tirosh),but will not drink the grape juice (yayin).”
In the Bible, the fresh juice in the grape press is usually tirosh. When the fresh juice is actually drunk, it is yayin, and that is what we see in Micah 6:15.
Some proponents of "alcoholic wine only" imagine that time for fermentation must be allowed in the middle of this verse. They suggest that at least a month and a half comes between the treading and the drinking. In this way they force the verse to say the yayin is alcoholic.
Isaiah 16:9,10 is a key reference to show that yayin does mean grape juice. God declares judgment on the harvest in the land of Moab. He takes away His special blessing, the grape juice, because they have disobeyed Him.
...for the shouting for your summer fruits and for your harvest is fallen. And gladness is
taken away, and joy out of the plentiful field; and in the vineyards there shall be no
singing, neither shall there be shouting: the treaders shall tread out no yayin (grape juice)
in their presses; I have made their vintage (harvest) shouting to cease.
The treaders used their feet to crush the grapes in a treading vat. The juice ran out into clay jars. In our lessons about fermentation we learned that it takes time to make alcoholic wine. But this verse says that the juice they are treading out is yayin. They could not be treading out alcoholic wine.
Jeremiah 48:33 repeats Isaiah 16. God warns Moab, “I have caused yayin to fail from the wine presses.” The yayin in the wine press has to be grape juice. Jeremiah 40:10 says, “...but ye, gather grape juice (yayin), and summer fruits, and oil....” Verse 12 uses almost the same words, “gathered wine (yayin) and summer fruits very much.” Grape juice (yayin) is being “gathered” at harvest time.
In Nehemiah 13:15, yayin is again a beverage ready for drinking right after pressing the grapes. Nehemiah saw the grape treaders working on the Sabbath and bringing grape juice (yayin), grapes and other products to Jerusalem to be sold on that same day.
These verses in Micah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Nehemiah provide clear evidence that the yayin just pressed out of the grapes and gathered with the summer fruits was fresh grape juice.
Lamentations 2, Amos 9 and Zechariah 10
Lamentations 2:11,12 pairs yayin with harvested grain. These verses are good to remember as further proof that yayin does mean grape juice. They tell about Babylon's invasion of Jerusalem, a terrible time of God's judgment on Judah. Food was gone. Children were starving.
Mine eyes do fail with tears... because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets
of the city.They say to their mothers, Where is grain and grape juice (yayin)? when they
swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into
their mothers' bosom.
As the little children fainted in the streets they cried for food and grape juice. They would not be asking their mothers for intoxicating yayin.
Amos 9:14 tells about a people at peace who planted vineyards and drank their yayin or grape juice. They also made gardens and ate what grew in them. God carefully pairs the drinking of the normal product of the vineyard, grape juice, with the eating of the food raised in the garden. Both have His blessing.
The Hebrew words for rejoice and joy are often used with tirosh or yayin at harvest time. This joy is not the joy of intoxication. Intoxicating wine does not produce real joy; it only dulls the senses and lessens the joy. Joy comes from the bounty of the harvest.
Zechariah 10:7 tells about future blessing for Israel. Dr. Teachout translates that verse like this:
So Ephraim will be like a mighty warrior,
Yea their hearts will rejoice as with the harvest joy of drinking fresh grape juice (yayin)
Indeed, their children will see and rejoice... 1
Certainly we know today that children do not rejoice when parents drink alcoholic wine, beer or whiskey.
God's blessing of yayin at harvest time is grape juice. Even when the harvest fails because of sin, the word yayin in the verses in this lesson means grape juice. It is the good yayin God has taken away because of sin.
II. BIBLE PEOPLE USED GRAPE JUICE
The Bible verses we have studied in the past lessons should have led us to the positive conclusion, as they did Dr. Teachout, that yayin can mean either fermented wine or fresh juice. We can easily understand why God hates some yayin and likes other yayin.
Now we will look at some people who used grape juice and some who refused even that.
Melchizedek, Jacob and Jesse
Melchizedek, king of Salem and a priest of God most High, brought out bread and grape juice for Abraham, Genesis 14:18,19. Jacob gave Isaac meat and grape juice before his father blessed him, Genesis 27:25. Jesse sent David to Saul with a donkey loaded with bread, a jug of grape juice, and a young goat, I Samuel 16:20.
All these verses tell about food for a meal. This is a common pairing of food and grape juice. 2
In the book of Daniel, Daniel refuses yayin one time, but another time the Bible calls it his daily drink. In Daniel 1:5,8,16, Daniel was offered wine and food. It was the Babylonian king's wine and food, or just what the king drank and ate. The wine was probably intoxicating yayin. The Babylonians dedicated their food to idols before they cooked it or served it at the table. Daniel firmly refused to drink the wine or eat the food because he was loyal to the one true God. He knew too, the laws God had given Moses about food in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the
king's food, nor with the wine (yayin) which he drank..., Daniel 1:8.
Later, in Daniel 10:3, Daniel tells about fasting and praying for three weeks. He was asking God to explain to him more about the future of Israel.
I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor grape juice (yayin) in my mouth, neither
did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
During the three weeks Daniel prayed, he put aside his normal food. He did not drink the grape juice yayin he usually drank, nor eat the food he usually ate.
People who took the Nazarite vow could not eat or drink any product of the grape. But when the time of the vow was finished God said they could drink grape juice, Numbers 6:19,20.
And the priest shall take the boiled shoulder of the ram and one unleavened cake... and
put them on the hands of the Nazarite... And the priest shall wave them for a wave
offering before the Lord... And after that the Nazarite may drink grape juice (yayin).
The law for the Nazarites is covered in more detail in Lesson 7.
God uses a group of people called the Rechabites as an example of true obedience in Jeremiah 35. Jonadab, an ancestor of these people had told them to live as nomads and not plant fields or vineyards. He also told them not to drink yayin. If they had no vineyards, they had no grape juice. If they had no grape juice they could not be tempted to make intoxicating wine. Jonadab lived during a time of great wickedness in Israel, II Kings 10:15. He had probably seen how godless city life had become and remembered Deuteronomy 8:1 – 20.
For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land... a land of wheat, and barley, and
vines and fig trees... When thou hast eaten and art full... Beware that thou forget not the
Lord thy God, in not keeping His commandments, and His ordinances, and His
statutes..., Deuteronomy 8:7a,8a,10a,11a.
Jonadab wanted his family to be true to God; he wanted them to live free from temptation for alcoholic drink. He told them not to plant vineyards.
In Jeremiah 35, the story of Jonadab and his children, yayin is grape juice in verse 2, verse 5 (two times), verse 6 (two times), and verses 8 and 14. 3
Go into the house of the Rechabites... and give them yayin (grape juice) to drink.
And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of yayin (grape juice),
and cups, and I said unto them, Drink yayin (grape juice).
But they said, We will drink no yayin (grape juice); for Jonadab, the son of Rechab, our
father,commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no yayin (grape juice), neither ye, nor your
sons forever . . .
Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab... to drink no yayin (grape juice) all our
days, we, our wives, our sons or our daughters,
The words of Jonadab... that he commanded his sons not to drink yayin (grape juice),
are performed; for unto this day they drink none….
God told Jeremiah to tempt the Rechabites with grape juice. He did not tempt them with fermented wine because that was contrary to the law of God and would have been a very weak test. The Rechabites refused to touch the juice. They gave their reasons plainly in verses 6 to 10. They would obey Jonadab who had said, “Ye shall drink no grape juice, neither ye nor your sons forever. Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard... Jer. 35:7. Thus have we obeyed....”
God then compared these people to Judah who had refused to obey His commands. He said evil would come upon Judah and blessing on the Rechabites.
1. Dr. Robert Teachout, The Use of Wine in the Old Testament, Doctoral Dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1979, p.286. “The joy over the harvest ... is biblically, for the righteous Israelite, the joy of accepting from the hand of God the bounty which He so desires to bestow... Wine (alcoholic) would diminish the true conscious enjoyment....”
2. Ibid., p.288. In I Samuel 17:17,18, Jesse sent his sons and their commander parched grain, bread and cheese, no meat or drink.
3. Ibid., p.289.